Using CAWL in Teaching Graduate Students English 484/584: Introduction to Digital Humanities

From a "Letter to a Future Student" in Digital Humanities:

This course...shaped my own understanding of preservation, both as it has existed in the past and in the ways it has progressed into the future. Activities such as transcribing some of Chapman’s collection of American war letters...demonstrated the ways data is created, is conveyed, and lives or dies.

Text-based scholarship: M.A./MFA in English & Creative Writing

Use of War Letters in the Intro to Digital Humanities course:

  • Apply lessons learned in readings about DH
  • Teach the digitization and transcription process
  • Think critically about the affordances and challenges of digitization
  • Writing a mock NEH-ODH Startup Grant using the War Letters (or a similar collection/dataset) as their final project for the course

"I learned that the way data, the written word, facts and figures are conceptualized, stored, and shared truly does matter...."

Future Plans for the use of CAWL in the Introduction to Digital Humanities:

  • Include students from the M.A. in War & Society program
  • Forefront the letters in the course, beginning with them on Day 1, rather than midway through the course
  • Apply lessons learned from digitizing manuscript sources to born-digital content (MilBlogs and War Letter emails)
  • Collaborate with CS graduate students for textual analysis of MilBlog content from the Iraq War
  • work with the Internet Archive to develop a toolset for the analysis of blog content, and apply for a DHAG (Digital Humanities Advancement Grant) in January 2017 to support this work
As I transcribed, "my right hand held a letter dated over 70 years ago, and my left hand typed the letter’s contents into a computer built less than three years ago. If that isn’t the intersection of digital and humanities, I don’t know what is."

The digital humanities today is about a scholarship (and a pedagogy) that is publicly visible in ways to which we are generally unaccustomed, a scholarship and pedagogy that are bound up with infrastructure in ways that are deeper and more explicit than we are generally accustomed to, a scholarship and pedagogy that are collaborative and depend on networks of people that live online. (from Matthew Kirschenbaum, "What is Digital Humanities and What's it Doing in English Departments")

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